Unity the key theme as Kenya celebrates
12 December 2013, 19:20
Nairobi - Jubilant scenes reminiscent of this day 50 years ago reverberated around the country as Kenya celebrated its independence milestone.
Kenyans braved the inclement weather characterized by low temperatures and intermittent rain to attend the functions which many said was in a-once-in-a-lifetime event.
The Heads of State from Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, South Sudan, the continent’s newest country, and Tanzania joined in the official ceremony that that began at around 1100 local time and ended at 1630.
Their local counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the celebrations.
He stressed the importance of national unity in order to foster development.
The celebrations come amid the trial of Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague following the disunity that ended in bloodshed after the inconclusive 2007/08 elections.
It is estimated up to 1 500 people were killed and 250 000 displaced.
In October tensions heighted between Christian and Muslim followers after a Muslim cleric was killed. The killing was reportedly linked to the terror attacks at the Westgate Mall which the Muslim extremists al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for.
Kenyatta thus took the opportunity to call for harmony.
“National unity is one of my most passionate goals and I call upon all of you to be united in the fight against negative ethnicity,” he said.
President Joyce Banda of Malawi and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria also shared the same sentiments.
“The destiny of Kenya is in the hands of the Kenyan people. No institution can protect the people of Kenya more than the people of Kenya. I call on the people of Kenya to come together and develop Kenya,” said Jonathan.
Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni subtly touched on the issue of the two Kenyan leaders’ pending cases at The Hague, calling for “Kenyan solutions to Kenyan problems.”
Museveni congratulated Kenyans as they celebrate 50 years of independence noting that since the year 2007 a number countries in Africa including Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda have celebrated that milestone.
“This is a celebration of sovereignty and freedom,” he said.
Kenyatta meanwhile paid tribute to all the Pan-Africanists, including the founding President of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela, Kamuzu Banda, Kwame Nkrumah and others who fought for the liberation of African countries.
“We should remember all Pan-Africanists who sacrificed a lot for us to enjoy freedom today.”
He outlined the strides achieved by Kenya over the years in different sectors including health care, education, information and communications technologies, agriculture and infrastructure among others.
“Although we have made achievements, we are yet to achieve the best in all the sectors,” he said.
The Kenya at 50 celebrations will continue over the weekend with other functions planned to take place in the city of Nairobi and Mombasa. With a colonial history dating back to 1885, Kenya gained independence from Britain on December 12 1963.
- CAJ News